Contemporary Musical Arts Ensembles

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The Contemporary Improvisation Department offers a variety of ensembles that are open to all NEC students on a space-available basis and by audition. Ensemble offerings vary from year-to-year, depending on the specific makeup of the department. Non-majors should sign up to audition during orientation week.

Students can also contact to schedule an audition if all slots are filled.

Survivor's Breakfast

Anthony Coleman Ensemble (Survivor’s Breakfast) explores the wonderful and terrifying space between Composition and Improvisation. Repertoire includes original compositions by ensemble members and its director along with pieces by such diverse masters as John Zorn, Christian Wolff, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

American Roots Ensemble

American Roots Ensemble, directed by Eden MacAdam-Somer. This ensemble uses American musical traditions as a springboard for repertoire and creative explorations.

Chorinho Ensemble

Chorinho Ensemble, directed by Amir Milstein. This ensemble explores Chorinho, an important Brazilian musical tradition.

CI Chamber Music Ensemble

CI Chamber Music Ensemble, directed by Eden MacAdam-Somer. This interdepartmental ensemble explores the boundaries between composition, improvisation, and world music, through written works and oral traditions. The ensemble performs in CI concerts throughout the year and varies in size and instrumentation depending on the repertoire.

“Cobra” Ensemble

“Cobra” Ensemble, directed by Anthony Coleman. This ensemble prepares performance versions of John Zorn’s classic music game piece Cobra.

01. The CI Non-Majors Ensemble performs in Pierce Hall.
02. The annual Film Noir concert is a highlight of the CI calendar. Here a student ensemble accompanies a scene from the Marlon Brando film, "The Wild One."
03. The Interdisciplinary Connections Ensemble is coached by Linda Chase.
04. Winifred Horan coaches NEC's Irish Music Ensemble, shown here in a workshop with her band Solas.
05. Under the direction of CI chair and klezmer maven Hankus Netsky, the Jewish Music Ensemble performs in NEC's Pierce Hall.

CI Non-Majors Ensemble

CI Non-Majors Ensemble, directed by Mark Zaleski. This ensemble offers non-majors an opportunity to explore a broad range of compositional and improvisational practices and strategies that draw strongly on aural traditions from many cultures. No previous experience with improvisation is required.

Film Noir/Storyboarding Ensemble

Film Noir/Storyboarding Ensemble, directed by Aaron Hartley and Ran Blake. Using classic film noir as an inspiration, students will develop and personalize film composers’ repertoire to create live musical accompaniment for pre-recorded film footage. Participation is by invitation only. The group performs in the department’s Jordan Hall Film Noir concert.

Interdisciplinary Connections Ensemble

Interdisciplinary Connections Ensemble, directed by Linda Chase, makes connections between and is influenced by the relationship between music, improvisation, and other forms of artistic expression including composition, poetry, visual art, and dance. We utilize a diverse repertoire of musical models and experiment with techniques including conduction, incorporation of spoken word, partially composed improvisation, sound painting and story-based pieces to serve as springboards for improvisation. We will also explore relationships in music, nature and transformation.

Irish Music Ensemble

Irish Music Ensemble, directed by Winifred Horan. This ensemble explores Irish instrumental musical traditions.

Jewish Music Ensemble

Jewish Music Ensemble, directed by Hankus Netsky. The NEC Jewish Music Ensemble offers students an opportunity to perform and arrange repertoire from a variety of Jewish traditions, including klezmer, cantorial, Middle Eastern, Hassidic, Yiddish Theatre and folksong.

01. Joe Morris introduces his ensemble members to all things free and improvisatory.
02. Members of the Middle-Eastern ensemble, directed by Mal Barsamian, perform in Jordan Hall.
03. Nedelka Prescod leads an impassioned performance by the Music of the African-American Experience ensemble.
04. Iranian composer/performer Nima Janmohammadi leads the NEC Persian Music Ensemble.
05. The NEC Rhythm & Blues Ensemble, directed by Nedelka Prescod, performs in Jordan Hall.

Joe Morris Improvisation Ensemble

Joe Morris Improvisation Ensemble. Explores the structure and properties of Free Music, including free jazz and free improvisation. In addition to total improvisation, we play works by Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Eric Dolphy, etc, as well as my pieces and student compositions. We also use graphic scores and conduction. The goal is to foster individual creativity in the open music setting using methods and material that will increase vocabulary with regard to melodic development, articulation, relation to pulse, timbre, and group interaction.

Middle Eastern Music Ensemble

Middle Eastern Music Ensemble directed by Malcolm Barsamian. This ensemble explores a variety of Middle Eastern traditions.

Music of the African American Experience

Nedelka PrescodMusic of the African American Experience. This ensemble takes a look at various genres within the vast repertoire of songs born of the African in America experience. Selected repertoire pulls from early African American work songs and spirituals, the blues, jazz, doowop, rhythm and blues and the various manifestations of contemporary R&B,soul, neo-soul and hip-hop as well as connections with the music of the Caribbean. Oral tradition, a strong approach to learning in the African American community, will be the driving force towards developing the students’ individual and collective ear and sense of collaborative musicmaking while encouraging students to connect with and authentically express the underlying feels and grooves inherent in each genre.

Persian Music Ensemble

Persian Music Ensemble directed by Nima Janmohammadi. This ensemble offers an introduction to Persian Music traditions.

Rhythm and Blues Ensemble

Rhythm and Blues Ensemble, directed by Nedelka Prescod. This ensemble draws its repertoire from classical offers American R&B.

Songwriters Workshop

Songwriters Workshop, directed by Hankus Netsky. This ensemble offers a framework for songwriters to work both on their own compositions and recompositions of existing songs drawing on all kinds of genres.

Contemporary Practice in Improvisation-Oriented Composition

Ted Reichman Ensemble: Contemporary Practice in Improvisation-Oriented Composition. This ensemble performs music written by composers working today, primarily from the jazz tradition, who have proposed new models for integrating improvisation and composition, and who embrace new ideas about structure, groove and texture. Repertoire will range from completely notated music to open forms, and from complicated rhythms to ambient soundscapes.

Indie, Punk, and Art Rock Ensemble

Indie, Punk, and Art Rock Ensemble directed by Lautaro Mantilla. This ensemble is an introduction to the diverse repertoire of underground music of the 1970s and 1980s. This music was created in opposition of mainstream culture and often contributed as a medium to bring about a radical awareness to any form of discrimination and used as a platform for political and social protest. By arranging and recomposing music from Dead Kennedys, Frank Zappa, Black Flag, The flat duo Jets, among many others, students gain knowledge of different compositional and improvisational approaches and explore what Bertolt Brecht may or may not have been loosely quoted as saying, “Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it.”